On July 27, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed into law the city’s domestic workers’ bill of rights. The ordinance, which passed the Seattle City Council unanimously on Monday, establishes protections for the city’s more than 30,000 nannies, caregivers and housekeepers, who have historically been excluded from labor laws. Seattle is now the only city in the United States with a comprehensive domestic workers’ bill of rights. The city joins eight states that have adopted a domestic workers’ bill of rights.
Against a grim national backdrop in which traditional labor unions are being drained of any remaining power, the persistence of the domestic workers’ movement throughout the country is indicative of how labor organizing may continue to evolve, incorporating workers’ efforts to exert pressure directly on local policymaking bodies.
Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who was just elected to her position in November, was instrumental to the ordinance’s passage.
“As a woman, as a person of color, as a third generation Chicana, I know that many of our issues have been on the back burner historically,” Mosqueda told Truthout. “When I got into office, this was the first legislation I was committed to passing.”
Councilmember Mosqueda and her colleagues were moved by the advocacy of domestic workers like Etelbina Hauser. Hauser, 57, was born in Honduras and spent many years as a domestic worker in Seattle. In the past, Hauser had suffered harassment and abuse at the hands of her employers.
Hauser is now an organizer with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. The Seattle ordinance was the first legislative campaign she worked on, and she was present at Monday’s unanimous…